Tag Archives: Slovakian biathlon

Paulína Fialková: The Interview!

Paulína Fialková is a Slovakian biathlete who won three medals at the recent Summer World Championships in Russia. She won silver in the Sprint and Mixed Relay and bronze in the Pursuit. Last season she achieved her personal best result of 5th on the World Cup in Kontiolahti and finished 31st in the Total Score. She was born on the 25th of October 1992 in Brezno and her younger sister Ivona is also a biathlete.

Like her Facebook page: Paulína Fialková
Follow her on Instagram: paja.fialkova

Why did you become a biathlete?

Because I was too hyperactive as a child and my parents chose biathlon as the right solution.

You got your personal best result of 5th last season in the Kontiolahti Pursuit coming from 37th with clean shooting. What do you remember about that race and what were your emotions at the finish line?

I had quite strong back pain before the race. I took some medicine for the pain and I knew, I will shoot 4×0 today. I was really happy after the race because of pushing my personal limit higher and especially with the clean shooting.

You went to the summer World Championships and won 3 medals. Is it good preparation and did it give you a lot of confidence for this coming season?

I had a hard summer preparation and it was important for me to know how the training was going. I did it not for confidence but for experience. I will never be old enough to gain more experience. Every time I wear my start number I can learn something new.

What other training have you done over the summer? Is there anything specific you have been trying to improve?

I changed a little bit my skiing technique and after shooting analysis also my rifle settings. I hope it will work.

What are your goals for this season on the World Cup?

To be better…I mean more points, hoping for some podiums.

You had some good results at the PyeongChang World Cup. Do you like the tracks and the range there? Have you set any goals for the Olympic Games?

I really liked PyeongChang. There are hard uphills and it satisfies me. The shooting range was windy but after the downhill.

What’s it like to be on the same team as your sister. Do you get on well or fight like all other families!? 😉

No fighting, just supporting 🙂 She does a great job as my sparring partner in the team!

Brezno-Osrblie is your home track and it hosts the IBU Cup races most years. Would you like to see a World Cup going there in the future? Is biathlon popular in Slovakia like it is next door in the Czech Republic?

I hope for the World Cup in Osrblie but it seems to be very far away. Biathlon in Slovakia is also becoming more and more popular.

Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

Osrblie because I know every centimetre very well.

Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?

Maybe Magdalena Neuner. She was not thinking only about the sport, when she said stop, she really stopped her career.

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Aspiring, combative, hard working.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Italy
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Mine
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Our new one for 2017/2018.
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding
Lucky bib number: 44
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Matej Kazár
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Dorothea Wierer
Best thing about being a biathlete: It’s my dream job!

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Paulína Fialková!

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Slovakia’s Paulína Fialková enjoyed her best ever season in biathlon in 2015/16. She achieved her best result on the World Cup and became a senior medallist for the first time.

Paulina was born in Brezno on the 25th of October 1992. Her younger sister Ivona is also a biathlete. With just two years between them they often compete against each other.

In the absence of Anastasiya Kuzmina, Fialková really stepped up a level last season. In Ruhpolding she finished 6th in the Sprint race to record her top finish on the World Cup so far and she also came 7th in the Individual. She recorded another six Top 25 finishes to end the season 36th in the Total Score. The previous year she was 74th so you can see how much she has improved in only a year.

Not content with doing well on the World Cup she arrived in Tyumen for the Open European Championships full of confidence. In the Mixed Relay on the first day she helped her team of Jana Gerekova, Matej Kazar and Martin Otcenas to win the silver medal. Then she waited until the final day to secure her own silver medal when she came second in the Mass Start.

At 24 she is still young in biathlon terms but looks to have a bright future ahead of her. She has already had a taste of the Olympic Games when she competed in Sochi and has taken part in 3 senior World Championships with a top finish of 23rd in Oslo last time around.

However it is not easy to be successful on the Women’s World Cup as it is incredibly competitive. It’s tough for all the women but she will be hoping to add more Top Ten finishes to her C.V in the coming season and there is no reason why she couldn’t grab a first podium. With the return of teammate Kuzmina this season she will also have to fight to maintain her place in the Slovak Mixed Relay team.

It could be a really good year for Fialková and the whole Slovak Team. They have some good experience with Gerekova and Kuzmina and also promising young talent like the Fialková sisters. The men are looking strong too with good results last season for both Kazar and Otcenas. Hopefully Paulína Fialková can play her part in making Team Slovakia even more successful!

Like Paulina’s Facebook page: Paulína Fialková (sportsperson)

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Otčenáš: A Slovak Attack!

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Martin Otčenáš has gone under the radar a bit in biathlon outside of Slovakia. He has always been a solid competitor finishing around 40th to 50th in most races. That is all about to change however. With 2 points scoring positions behind him from last season and an excellent summer Martin is ready to move up in the biathlon world.

He was born in Poprad, Slovakia on the 25th of August 1987. He made his debut on the World Cup in Antholz in Season 2008/09 after spending a year on the IBU Cup. Last season he finally scored some points by finishing in the TOP 40 in 2 races.

He achieved his personal best result in Pokljuka in the Sprint race coming in 21st place and improving from his previous best finish of 45th. In the Pursuit race he managed to hold on for 40th place ensuring another points scoring finish. This is a really noteworthy improvement. It’s quite normal for the top athletes to get points in nearly every round but for others making it into the TOP 40 is a really important step.

Over the summer Martin also attended the Summer World Championships which were held in Cheile Gradistei in Romania. In the Men’s Sprint race he came third and won the bronze medal. In the Pursuit race he did even better and won the race to take home the gold medal.

Some might argue that it doesn’t mean much to win at the Summer World Championships as most of the big names do not attend and that it is raced on roller skis and not on snow. I do not agree. To win any form of race in biathlon is extremely difficult and the confidence of winning medals is a massive boost to any biathlete. For example the Bulgarian duo Anev and Iliev did well in summer 2014 and went on to have fantastic seasons on snow.

I am not getting carried away and saying that he will challenge at the top next season but I am expecting a big improvement for him personally. I think he will be able to get more points scoring positions and I expect him to break into the Top 20.

It will be an important year for Martin. At 28 he is probably in his prime as a biathlete in terms of fitness and experience. He needs to continue to improve and he must try and make himself a regular in the TOP 40. It won’t be easy for him but he will do his best both individually and for the Slovakian Relay teams. Look forward next season to a Slovak Attack!

You can like Martin’s Facebook Page: Martin Otcenas (Sportsperson)

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Kuzmina: A fast Slo Russian?

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Confused? You should be! Anastasiya Vladimirovna Kuzmina is a complicated lady. She was born in and competed for Russia. She is Anton Shipulin’s big sister. She is married to an Israeli cross country skier. She now lives in and competes for Slovakia. Have you got all that? Good! I would never say that Kuzmina is lazy but she does like a short race! She is double Olympic gold medallist in the Sprint event. She produced a remarkable defence of her title in Sochi and to do it in what was her home games, even though she doesn’t compete for Russia anymore, must have been an amazing feeling for her.

It was pretty amazing for us too as she hadn’t really shown much form on the World Cup leading up to the games but like the wily competitor that she is, she timed her form beautifully. However she couldn’t repeat her double medal winning performance from Vancouver where she followed up Sprint gold with Pursuit silver. She finished 6th in the Sochi Pursuit but she was up against Darya Domracheva who went on to win the 3 remaining golds.

Anastasiya was born on the 28th of August 1984 in Tyumen, Russia. She originally competed for Russia and had a pretty successful Junior career in the team. She won 7 medals in the Junior World Championships, 2 gold, 4 silver and 1 bronze. After getting married and having a son she changed allegiance to compete for Slovakia in 2008 so that her son could go to training camps with her. As her husband is also her skiing coach it made sense for them to be together as a family and meant she could continue to compete.

It proved a good decision for her as she has made history for her new country. She was the first ever woman representing Slovakia to win an Olympic gold medal. This led to her rightly winning the 2010 Slovak Athlete of the Year and for the last 5 years she has been named Queen of the Slovak Biathlon Track! A rhyming award is always the best one to win!

Kuzmina turns 30 this summer and so is now one of the most experienced athletes on the World Cup after the retirements of the likes of Henkel and Berger. She will be looking to improve on her World Cup results from last season and get back on the podium on a more regular basis. In Kontiolahti she will surely want to add to her 2 World Championship medals. Don’t bet against her winning the Sprint again as she is a fast, Slo Russian!

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Kazar: The Crack Slovak!

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Matej Kazár is one of Slovakia’s top biathletes. He was born on the 10th of May 1983 in Košice. He made his first appearance for Slovakia on the World Cup in 2002 as a member of the relay team and has been a regular since 2005. He scored his first points in 2008 in Ruhpolding by finishing 23rd(good number!) in the Pursuit.

He enjoyed a successful junior career winning gold and silver in the European Championships. However his best results have come in the Summer biathlon competitions. In 2010 he had a stellar year winning gold, silver and bronze in the Pursuit, Sprint and Mixed Relay respectively in the Summer Biathlon World Championships in Duszniki Zdrój in Poland. Not only that but he also won 2 gold medals and a bronze in the European Summer Biathlon Championships in the same year in Osrblie, at home in Slovakia, in the same events. Anyone would think he doesn’t like snow!

In fact his best results on snow have been a 17th place in last year’s Individual in Oestersund and another 17th place in the Pursuit in Kontiolahti in 2011/12.He also has another ten TOP30 finishes to his name, five of which came last year. Actually last year was probably his best season so far. He finished 48th in the Total Score by coming 45th in the Individual standings,52nd in the Sprint,44th in the Pursuit and helping Slovakia to a 12th place finish in the Nations Cup.

This season his best result so far came in the Sprint race in Annecy. He finished 26th but didn’t do so well in the Pursuit coming 39th because of 4 missed targets. Matej needs to become more consistent and try and achieve TOP 20 and 30 results on a more regular basis. This however is easier said than done as there are so many great male biathletes competing just now and more good up and coming ones to try and beat. Matej can’t afford to worry about them though, he just needs to concentrate on himself. Some TOP 20 finishes in Sochi would be a massive confidence boost and with a teammate like Anastasiya Kuzmina you never know what could happen in the mixed relay. Maybe he needs to pretend he is on rollerskis to get some good results and we will all see what The Crack Slovak is capable of!

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